December 10, 2020

Dear Harbor Families,

Day 8 of Harbor@Home is under our belts today. When compared to the nearly three months we've spent in-person so far, it certainly feels like much more than 8 days! What a strange world this is.

With so much uncertainty about the next few weeks, I unfortunately don’t have an update on a return date at this time - yet I can say that we are hoping to be back in person early in the new year. Next week, the Health and Safety Committee will share a survey to get a sense of the current thinking in our community around strategies to enable a January return to in-person learning.

While we are all living with these new at-home circumstances, I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge that distance learning is hard. I have talked to many of you over the past two weeks and that theme is undeniable.

Teachers are working overtime - more than they ever have, and that’s saying a lot - to deliver the program; the workload, technology, and attention to detail required to facilitate distance learning represents a huge effort and time commitment. Parents are struggling with juggling responsibilities and schedules, rising frustration levels, and (at least in my case) dishes and laundry that pile up since there is not enough time in the day. And the kids miss seeing their friends and teachers and struggle to adjust to a different kind of routine, or (as demonstrated in the Musico household) less of a routine despite best efforts and intentions. It’s just so challenging.

If the challenges of distance learning are a commonality, there are as many differences in how it can work best as there are families in our community. Every child and household functions differently; for some, kids and families thrive on Zoom, and for others, it’s extremely difficult to engage over the screen for more than a few minutes. Some students have independently managed learning on Seesaw, and others have needed a lot of adult interaction and support. Whatever your experience, keep in mind that doing the best we can as parents is all we can ask of ourselves - and of our kids - and it's okay if our best looks a little different right now.

Last spring when developing our program, we carefully considered families’ feedback and thought carefully to design a model with an appropriate balance of synchronous and asynchronous learning for our age groups. Of utmost importance was that we honor our mission to personalize learning in small groups and to keep social/emotional learning in focus. And knowing that families and kids need different things, we developed the FLEX and MAX programs.

Hopefully, we won’t need to be at this for much longer, since the one thing that everyone agrees on is that in-person learning serves our children better. While we are living with this reality, though, we want to hear from you about how your family and child are doing. Feel free to reach out directly for a conversation with me or your teacher, complete this brief questionnaire, or join us for our weekly Parent Coffees on Thursday mornings to talk about your experiences. We want your input about ways we can improve upon our model and/or provide support to you. 

Thank you for your partnership. The challenges this pandemic has presented us with can only be effectively managed as a team. We are grateful for the Harbor community - and we can’t wait for that community dance party next Friday afternoon (remember that parents are invited too - and I think we could all use it)!


Leah Musico
Head of School

Harbor School